Controlling Your Nerves: Public Speaking Mastery

Regardless of how many times you are tasked to speak publicly about a topic, you will experience some semblance of excitement, anxiety or nerves prior to going on. While we can never fully anticipate specifically which will hit us and to what degree, we can certainly limit any potentially negative impact and also channel the emotion into a positive outcome.

1. Remember that you’re the expert. If you find yourself nervous or apprehensive, reflect on the fact there is a reason you have been tapped to tackle the topic. You are speaking to a group of people about something you are likely very comfortable with. Your knowledge level on this subject is typically superior to those receiving your message. You likely spend a significant amount of time dabbling in the dialogue you will deliver; you’ve got this. It is your wheelhouse and you are the subject matter expert. Find solace and confidence in your unique understanding of the topic.

2. Drown out the distractions. We typically over-think in situations of this ilk. “What if I forget something?” “What if I mess up?” “What if someone asks me a question I don’t have the answer to?” We can be our own worst enemy! If someone asks you something you don’t know, explain – “That’s a great question! In this  field, things are ever-changing. I can commit to getting you the most up to date response. Let’s connect afterward.” Furthermore, think about how many times you have seen speeches delivered – you likely do not even notice the “gaffes” they themselves deem as less than their best work. You cannot control exactly how the speech will go, but you can certainly control the notes you reference during the presentation, you can control your knowledge of the subject and you can most definitely work to control what you allow to seep into your consciousness. A friend of mine once shared with me the value in literally acknowledging the presence of a negative thought or emotion and forcefully dismissing it. With practice, this process goes a long way in pushing out any unwanted anxiety.

3. Don’t over-rehearse. There is something to be said for developing a comfort level with the material and your presentation. You’ll hear that you can rehearse in the mirror or to a peer. While I firmly believe in being fully prepared to impart knowledge to your audience, it is certainly problematic when you become so rehearsed that you become obsessed with performing your speech precisely as rehearsed. Rather than being able to develop a rhythm and flow, you trip over trying to replicate past performances. Rehearse and make it innate, but do not overdo it.

4. Relax. Whether nothing’s at stake to a potentially large client or deal, there are likely numerous reasons you’re at the podium. We spend so much time worrying about outcomes that never become reality – and what does the worrying get us? If you’re prepared, you’re an expert and you are nimble and quick on your feet to answer questions and commit to finding answers on anything you don’t know, you’ve controlled what you can control. The rest will take care of itself.

Nerves are a funny thing; they can pop up when we don’t expect them and even after years of perfecting our craft. That said, funnel and channel them into an obsession with doing your subject matter justice, not an obsession over a rehearsed, canned speech. Know your audience, deliver the goods. The rest will truly fall into place, and with practice – like any other process – you will learn small tweaks you can make to enhance your performance.

And best of luck/ break a leg!


Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be.  If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership.  You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.  You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page:


About cvheady007

I am a 39-year old Dad, workaholic and author. Having been born and raised in Cape Girardeau, MO, I moved to St. Louis in 2001, began a career in sales and never looked back. My first novel, "BIRTH OF A SALESMAN" is headed to stores both online and offline soon.
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